In high school I had a very well known AP US History teacher. I will never forget the numerous times he would speak about great deeds in history and then comment, “but you parking lotters.” Let me define parking lotters for you in case it confuses you or you are unaware of who constitutes as a parking lotter.
Parking lotter: the kids who sit in high school parking lots drinking and displaying other questionable behaviors. Basically, unproductive members of society.
Many a times he was referring to a number of students sitting in my very class. We would all laugh, but deep down knew that he was right about those of us who were parking lotters. I think this parking lotter mentally partially came about because we choose to buy in. We buy in to the latest fads. We buy into what our parents tell us. We buy into what the media tells us. We buy into whatever celebrities endorse. We buy into random articles our friends share on Facebook. We buy into the view of the majority.
I guess if I had to give our generation some life tips from what I have experienced in my short 20 something years thus far I would say the following:
1. LEARN. Whether this be in the traditional sense, life experiences, or free online schools or tutorials. Knowledge will set you free. It gives you the opportunity to live a better, happier life. If you can’t afford school, there are free online classes you can take via Coursera, Stanford Online, and other Universities. I have signed up for a number of these and the actual professors from the university teach them. It’s like a free education without the piece of paper you get at the end of it.
2. QUESTION. Don’t always accept what your teachers tell you. Instead, do some research and ask them follow up questions. Have your own opinion about important issues and make sure that you do your research. Know that your opinion is backed up by evidence. Don’t just accept what others tell you is wrong or right. Don’t always accept what your parents did and tell you to do, they are right most of the time, but not always. I am struggling with this in terms of career choices. I chose to major in Accounting to partially appease my parents, hated it, and then switched to teaching. I am thinking about going back to school again to get a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and I don’t think they think I should. Our parents generation took jobs that they hated and stayed at them for years because that’s what they accepted they had to do to provide for their families. Our generation doesn’t necessarily have to stick to a career because it pays the bills. Decide on what you actually like to do and figure out a way to make money from it. Easier said than done, I know.
3. DREAM. This relates back to questioning your choice in career. Don’t just stick to what you know, but believe that there is more and there can be more. The Cronut didn’t come about because the baker was sticking to what everyone else made. Experiment, fail, and try again.
4. GOALS. Have a goal, or two, or three, or more. Without a focus for your life what is the point? Goals keep you on track and feeling like a productive member of society. I find that productive people are happier than the latter. A dream is just a wish without some type of goals you are pursuing to make it a reality.
5. CONFIDENCE. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else is going to either. Everyone has fears, everyone lacks in self confidence at different times in their lives, but at some point you have to accept that what you think of yourself is the most important thing.
6. SOLO. I saw a quote once that said something about life being a journey you take along, and everyone else is just there to help you along the way. While I am not saying that you should only focus on yourself and not help out others, you can’t live for someone else. That someone else will eventually leave (either by walking away or passing away) and then all you will have left is yourself. Will that be enough for you? Companionship is natural and healthy and good, just make sure you also have your own separate identity and life. Do things you enjoy as well.
Robin Williams has been all over the news lately. He reminded us all that life is short. Make your mark on the world. Don’t buy in.
If you had to give our generation one tip, what would it be?